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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Header Image With Graphic

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I Design, You Decide: Mountain Fixer-Upper – The Fireplace

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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Header Image With Graphic
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**** UPDATE: The poll has now closed, and we have a winner of ‘WORK WITH IT’, with 81% choosing ‘Work with It’ and 19% choosing ‘Fresh Start’. Thank you to everyone who voted, entered, and shared your opinion. We love having you participate in this exciting project and we can’t wait for you to weigh in on the next design decision. In the meantime be sure to head here to see all the polls and progress of the fixer-upper project.

We are full steam ahead on the mountain house with demo starting this week, but I’m REALLY trying to take my time and not rush the design process, and yet we want to live there this summer so I have to move fast. Our contractor wants the demo list and the only thing that I’m unsure about is the fireplace. We’ve gone around and around about the stone since we put in the offer.

Let me take you down the rabbit hole thought-process since August.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Before Furniture

When we first offered (to buy) on the mountain house I immediately went on Pinterest looking for good versions of rock fireplaces. Ours felt a little cheesy and dated, and yet the stone almost looked too ‘new’. The rocks felt too round and bulbous or something – our architect called them ‘bubble rocks’ and I wasn’t impressed with that phrase. They are real, not the fake facade version but is that my dream fireplace? Nope.

Emily Henderson Lake House Before 1661 Emily Henderson Lake House Before 1762

I found a few (but not a ton) of rock fireplaces that I did love.

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 281
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 151
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 02
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Those are beautiful but we have to be realistic about the fact that those stones are much more beautiful than ours.

But that is more similar and I like it enough. Maybe it could be possible? When combined with pretty architecture and fresh furniture it does seem appropriate and nice.

I really only found one that I LOVED, designed by the owners of Mjolk– an amazing Scandinavian store out of Canada. This is their cabin, and boy do I love it.

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 201
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 101
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Ugh. So pretty. But that stone is so old!! That’s why it’s so beautiful. Our stone is from the 60’s and looks kinda brand new and just so generic. Plus the shape of this one is more graceful and maybe it’s also because it’s combined with the all-white floor and ceiling and we are likely recladding wood on the ceiling and of course installing wood floors.

So I scrapped the idea of the stone. I was like – nope. I want something stunning and stone will never be stunning.

Plus at the beginning of the design process I was leaning way more ‘Contemporary Scandi Chalet’ and less ‘Mountain Cabin’.

My first idea was a hanging fireplace, like so:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 32
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I was pretty set on it for a couple weeks and everyone in the office agreed. Great. Done. I pitched the idea to Brian and it was basically crickets. Sure, he likes the fireplace, but not in that house. I guess I also took issue with the fact that it’s a corner fireplace, and would much prefer centered on a wall, so a hanging oval shape felt more appropriate there. My mother-in-law and one of my best friends were both confused and shocked at the idea, saying ‘No, you need something cozier’.

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Look! There are logs on the floor, that is cozy!

Fine. Scrapped. Let’s do a really simple and neutral but beautiful tile. Cle has some new handmade terracotta matte tiles coming out that could be simple and beautiful. A quiet statement.

Clare Cousins Chomley St
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Finding tile inspiration that I actually liked was very challenging. So picture these in really pretty handmade finish. In fact the one that I’m referencing would be the one in this materials board below:

Bathroom Moodboard CompressedRustic Modern Cabin Mountain House Bathroom Moodboard Pebble Floor

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It’s a little more midcentury and admittedly not as ‘warm’, but because the fireplace is so big I think it would be a beautiful but quiet statement with a lot of impact.

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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 301
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 31
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You could stack it vertically or horizontally, or stagger it, or scale it up or down….

But then I thought, am I missing an opportunity to do something really crazy and special? Should I do something that will get 10k likes on Instagram every time I post it like my patio tile??? If you think I’m not designing this house with photography/social media in mind, you are wrong. I make editorial content for a living, I want this place to pop on camera, and yet be appropriate in person. It’s an inner hell that I can better explain in a whole post about how social media is affecting the design world…

ANYWAY, Maybe a different shape or color would make it feel more special. AGAIN, the images below aren’t what I want (I don’t love the colors for me) but you get the idea.

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 241
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Would a pretty handmade gray tile feel more like a ‘rock’ but in a modern way?

Again, the idea of this below (not the color) could work, right? Maybe?

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 18
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Or is there something kinda ‘bathroom-y’about it?

I have two tiles that I LOVE that could be stunning, but I haven’t seen them in person yet.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Cle Tile Mosaic

If anyone has seen inspiration of a fireplace with beautiful tile that might work, send my way.

As I design I always go through any material that something can be made out of – so obviously wood came up.

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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 271
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We are putting wood flooring down, and will likely clad the ceiling with new wood (instead of refinishing) if we can afford it. If anyone has reclad a ceiling, let us know.

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So wood on the fireplace could just be a lot of wood, OR it could keep it feeling more streamlined and simple. My original thinking of this house was more minimal, and using the same high-end elements over and over, but that has shifted to make it feel a little warmer by mixing more materials.

I will say that it was very hard to find even a few images of wood on fireplaces that I liked. A lot of them look a little try-hard and I think the key is having it one length (no seams if applied horizontally) and having them be more wide plank, and keeping it not orange and more matte.

Brian at first really loved the wood thing but then he, too, feared we were missing an opportunity. We could do wood and then a stone hearth to break it up…

Then I thought – might it be super pretty to have wood on floors and ceilings, huge picture windows with wood frame but keep the fireplace minimal with just drywall?

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 41
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 39
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As you can imagine Brian wasn’t psyched, but some of these pictures are really pretty so I kept it in the post just to show you it’s an option.

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I love the one above, mixing it with stone, but keeping it clean and modern with the drywall. Or maybe you add a pretty wood beam and play with the shape, like this one:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 37
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Then I thought – maybe we should be rethinking the shape altogether. We are demo-ing it out we can start fresh and really make it any shape we want. So maybe keeping it a simple finish, but a pretty shape (thus adding warmth and depth – instead of being so flat) is a good option …

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 07
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 251
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I was almost completely convinced when I saw this above photo (sorry, it’s grainy we couldn’t find the high res online). That shape is so pretty and feels warm and traditional in a way but so simple and classic as well. This is from a Scandinavian cabin and obviously looks great with the simpler color scheme. The harder lines keep it from feeling too spanish or adobe – like. And we can play with materials – possibly even a tile in the surround (white on white?) or a herringbone in the box, or a stone hearth or a wood mantel … so many options. Brian’s first reaction was boredom, but he came around and now he really loves it.

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 13
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 15
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 3
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It will take a lot of work to recreate it, but I’m definitely interested.

Now for the twist. We’ve spent so much time up there over the holidays and on weekends when it has been cold. We put on the fire and play uno with the kids and drink wine with our friends and a few weeks ago, after dark, even I admitted the stone is just so warm and appropriate. It’s lovely to sit on the carpet, in front of the warm fire, listening to music, with wood on the ceiling. My friend, Suzanne, once again – mountain houses should have stone fireplaces – are you sure you can’t just work with it?

Brian has been a ‘work with it’ guy for a long time, but also doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to make it the most beautiful it can be. Plus there is a budget issue to think about. We haven’t really set a budget for this house because we are still planning, but we know that it is going to cost A LOT (my guess would be at least $150k), especially on labor. This fireplace might be somewhere that we could save. I think demo-ing it out, rebuilding, buying a new box and vent, and resurfacing it would likely cost $8-$10k. Maybe less, but it’s not cheap.

So it was time to consider what our options would be if we were to try to make the original stone work.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Changes With Copy 01

I want to raise the hearth, increase the box (and make it an open gas fireplace instead of a stove so we can see the flames). Re-clad the mantel in a prettier wood, and then stack pretty logs underneath the bench like so:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 161
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 191
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 04
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Then what happens to the rock? Here are some options that are on the table:

Paint it white …

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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 121
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Easy enough. We’d like to still have the wood mantel and do something different to the hearth – maybe a larger gray stone tile top and wood underneath it, still.

It’s definitely the easiest option and will look fine in photos, but I’m not convinced it’s special enough and it will lose some of the warmth of the stone.

To keep some of the texture of the stone we could white or gray wash it:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 141
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I’m not freaking out about it but it is pretty. The below one is more gray and I like it a lot more, but maybe that’s because it’s a brick not a bubble river stone.

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 03
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And again, this isn’t our stone, but this one below feels really ‘mountain-y’.

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It’s just a pretty tonal stone fireplace – how could I regret that?

I found a few DIYs online, and this one below looks pretty good:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 06
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 05
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OR what if it were a really dark color like so:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 01
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That is moody and cozy, and could be a dark slate blue or charcoal – but is it really cold?

Then I went back to my original image – this aged stone fireplace from Mjolk:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 11
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First off, we need to fill in the grout or mortar to make it way less bubbly. But then could we possibly age the rocks or make them feel more interesting?

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The below images show stone fireplaces where the ‘grout’ is basically flush with the stone – and think that it looks way better.

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Could we even shave down our stone to be more flat? And then can we use some plaster to go over it all then wipe it off the stone so it looks more like this?

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 09
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Country Homes Interior Design Rustic Country House In Croatia Wi
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Bd Jefferies
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Or do you fill it in to be almost flush and then paint it out a matte taupe or stone color like this:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 111
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Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 221
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The number of options possible for this fireplace are daunting – heck I could even just replace it altogether with pretty stone!  I’m not ready to make that exact decision right now, but what we actually do need to know this week is if we need to demo it out or not.

So the poll today is asking you guys if you’d like to see us “work with it’ or ‘start fresh’. Do you like the challenge of seeing if we can make this stone what we really want, since it is a mountain house after all OR should we demo it out and rethink it all together with one of the first ideas, creating what might be more of our dream fireplace (but would likely cost way more).

As a reminder .. here she is right now, pre-renovation:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Before Furniture

Now vote!

I Design, You Decide

Fireplace: Work With It? or Fresh Start?

Option 1

work with it

81 %

Option 2

fresh start

19 %
(Vote by Tuesday, Feb 27th to have your voice heard.)
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Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂

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And remember, we can always rethink it next year after we’ve tried to work with it … Not ideal as I want to do all the construction at the same time but it is an option.

WHAT DO YOU THINK??? And regardless of which you choose, what is your favorite within that option. If you want us to start fresh would you go with tile or wood? And if you are team ‘work with it’ then what do you think would be the best?

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Gwen

Have you considered removing the stone from above the mantle, but keeping it below?

Bea

Agreed! I thought this would be a good solution too.

Bea

Further to my comment above, I thought I’d share a photo I took in Austria last week at a hotel in the Alps at a ski resort which has the half stone / half plaster look https://pin.it/kyb7qq5atw3lnx

Not a mountain cabin but definitely in the mountains!

Bea

And here’s another one (although with brick at the base not stone). It’s of my parent’s home in Germany and was taken Christmas Eve (hence the champagne in the foreground) https://pin.it/sldvw2n7lyut7n

Katlyn Howard

Totally agree! Maybe even combine the wood look you both like above the mantle (maybe make it vertical to modernize it) with the stone (added grout for sure) below the mantle!

Eve

This could work too I agree!

Josh

I agree. There is a lot of stone right now. Splitting it in half and dying the below lighter would be much more appealing.

Miruska

Yes, that’s what I thought. There is one image where the stone was below the mantle and above was white (not sure if it is just wall material or cladding or whatever), but it looked great. Maybe you can then do some major work with the stone below the mantle as it wouldn’t be as expensive. It would be fresh, modern, but still within your intention to keep the stone and make it more of a mountain cabin. .

heather

Another vote for this option! Also to flatten the “bubble” and plaster!

emily jane

me too! working with it: remove rock above the re-clad mantel (bonus -if you end up deciding to go the ‘fresh start’ route later, you are already halfway done with demo ; ), de-bubble remaining stone and incorporate plaster somehow (which feels old world to me and lends itself to the warmth of the cabin feeling you are after/want to maintain) in the refreshed design. and YES to raising the hearth and modifying the firebox (but definitely go with decorative wood since the insert will be gas -you don’t need a standing invite to outdoor critters). love it when you… Read more »

Ellen

This!!!

SusanM

I like this option plus all the design changes Emily noted, having the wood storage underneath, raising firebox, making the wood on the mantel a bit nicer. That will make it look great! It is also possible maybe to regrout it, to make the stones seem more flush with the grout? And you could do a wash to age them up a bit. The stones themselves are nice!
DesignMom did a wash on her brick fireplace that came out great.

Lynn

Yes! I thought of this too, keep the stone low around your firebox and then make a cool plaster/drywall chimney in a new shape above. Maybe the EHD team member who does all your awesome graphics can photoshop that out for us! 😉 Love your work and can’t wait to see what you do with this. Also, on a side note, in case you may want to still have a wood burning fireplace, there are a lot of modern/flat-fronted wood burning fireplace insert options now. My husband REALLY wanted to keep a wood burning stove in our house and we… Read more »

Megan

Yes! This!

Rachel Alexander

I agree that you should demo the stone above the mantle. That way you can work with the stone on the bottom (agree with more grout/maybe a color change like the dark gray, enlarged hearth and opening) and then add the tiered shape you love to the top with the clean plaster look. You have one photo above where the stone is just on the bottom and it looks great. I am sure you could tie it together with an older wood beam mantle and new hearth.

Lynn 2

I was also thinking the exact same thing! I like the idea of raising the fireplace & opening (with a bench, etc.) as Emily said, but then also removing the stone above the mantle. I just think that way you can really appreciate the beauty of the stone, without it being this big hulking thing hanging over you (esp. if there is wood on the ceiling, etc.)

Mary

Yes!! I knew I could count on the commenters to suggest it.
-raise mantle, replace with chunky old wood
-demo stone above mantle to remove that odd angle where it hits the ceiling
-add grout in stone and if that doesn’t look good then mess with aging it

Virginia

I think the same. I see the “problem” more in the proportions than in the material: the stone surface is so high, and up there it is abruptly cut by the diagonal ceiling. It also has a strange shape: narrower above the mantel, but just “a little bit” narrower, disturbing, not a bold difference. And this would be disguised if that upper part was white. I like Emily’s proposal of setting the firebox higher and making it bigger: Right now it pulls the eye down, while the rest pulls it high. Also: The whole fireplace is “caught” between the walls… Read more »

Molly

That’s a good point re: the similar but not the same top and bottom sizes. Looking back again, I am now o the different top and bottom train.

Jen

My suggestion too!

Heidi

THAT is a great idea!

Sarah G

I like this idea but would it really save that much money as opposed to getting something you like more? That’s my only reservation—it still seems labor intensive.

Oscars
Bea

Work with it! Definitely! My first thought was just fill in the gaps with more mortar to make it look flatter.

I find it far more interesting and creative to see how something can be “up-cycled” than stripped out and replaced. Also a lot more environmentally friendly.

Loveley

YES to everything in your comment. I thought that too. They just look bubbly because the mortar is so far back from the front of the rock.
Also, it makes me sad to see designers constantly “gutting” things. It would be awesome to see this worked with.
Go green. Even in design. 🙂

Alexis

This is just what I was going to say. I love to see designers work with what they’ve got because I get so much inspiration out of how you can take something that didn’t quite fit in the beginning and make it look beautiful. I had no clue about adding mortar or grinding stone down.

Julie P

Yes! This! We are all at home figure out how to work with what we’ve got. I LOVE it when YOU do something that inspires my efforts in that realm.

Jillian

agreed!

Cris S.

Me too! Especially as I didn’t see anything compelling in the other options. Fill in the mortar, consider painting after that.

Addie

Yes, I am agreeing with these comments! You are wanting that authentic antique look that is unique to the home, which will make it the star of the room. The only way you can possibly achieve it here is to experiment with the existing stones, mortar, grout, whitewash etc. I think keeping some of the 3D rounded shapes are key to this type of stone but trying some different techniques to fill in and create an older, more natural look is the way. Watch some “Escape to the County” on you tube to soak up the old English cottage looks… Read more »

Alexandra

Yes, agreed. And I think a mountain house should have a stone fireplace. We don’t have a mountain house, but a 70s California ranch that came with a monstrous lava stone fireplace, which I despised in the beginning, but after realizing what a humongous project it would be to replace it, I have learned to live with it, and we have updated it with a nice simple thick mantle shelf and cool sconces on the sides. Now it looks special, rather than being an eyesore.

Ginger

Yes work with it! More grout would look great. I too, prefer designers to work with what they have. It becomes more inspirational to the reader and I feel anything old adds instant charm and coziness anyway.

Diane

Also agreed! It breaks my heart when I see designers demo something that has potential like this. I always think it’s such a shame and such a waste. Work with it!

Rae

I came here to say just what @Bea said. Fill in with grout to make it closer to level and potentially stain / white-wash it. I find it so much more interesting, as well as potentially environmentally friendly, to see you work with what you have — it is certainly the challenge I have in my own home.

Cori

Me too! I hate to see things demoed when it’s still functional.

ChristinaInAustralia

My thoughts exactly — sustainability is really important, and it’s great to model that, not least to the kids? I wouldn’t age them; I find artificially aged stuff really grates with me, all this faux industrial chic etc.

Cori

I think the bubble is really playful- especially for a mountain home. Buuutttt my vote would be to work with it (I can’t vote for some reason) and maybe stucco/drywall over part of it- either too or bottom. OR to paint it dark- which I know may not entirely fit into your Scandinavian feel- but they use dark colors too!

Kim

Yes! Work with it. Less wasteful.

Gwen

Have you considered removing the stone from above the mantle, but keeping it below?
http://www.ladolcevitablog.com/2017/01/13/texture-patina/
http://islandtimberframe.com/projects/modern-beachfront-timber-frame/

Jared

Although the stacked wood under the fireplace looks really beautiful, if you ever get a mouse in your home, it will go right for the wood to make its nest. Best to keep the wood outside.

Allison

I was thinking something similar but with bugs, especially termites that might be in the wood having direct access to her new wood flooring. . .

Erin

My first thought was mice too!

Cori

I thought ants and spiders!!! EGGSSS!!! Yuck

Josh

It looks nice, but I don’t want that touching the back of my legs if I’m sitting on the hearth.

Alexis

Agreed! My mom uses her fireplace a lot and every winter we see i big uptick in the number of large outdoor cockroaches, spiders, etc. that come in on the wood. Best to store it outside and bring it in when you’re ready to burn it.

lu

I’m going to guess Emily might buy special “pretty” wood for under there but bring in actual fire wood for burning?

Megan

I think they want to go with a gas fireplace. So the wood would be for decoration only.

kelie

Actually the wood will be purely ornamental as she mentioned a gas insert, which is super disappointing since gas fires do not have any of the character/warmth/coziness of a wood-burning fire. It honestly bums me out a bit.

Jenny B

Smoke from wood fireplaces contributes to global warming, so gas is the more environmentally conscious thing to do. In CA we have “spare the air” days when people are asked not to burn wood, drive as little as possible, because the air quality is poor. Better to loose the character and save the air!

Ginger

Keep it a wood burning fireplace please! My parents have a gas one in their cabin which is just plain silly since it can’t heat the house when the power goes out. Which, if you live in the mountains is bound to happen!!

Kelly

Aye yi yi!!! GOOD POINT, I’m deathly scared on indoor mice crawling all over me! I agree with the commenters to remortar — I think you can salvage without wasting the rock. I totally don’t like the look of the stones either, but strangely because they are so smooth and polished the fireplace kind of reminds me of a river crossing in, say, somewhere like Yosemite where the rocks are all polished from the stream flow — maybe that image will help remove some of the horror you have with the wall in its current condition? Finally, that is the… Read more »

vicki magnis

I also think that the wood would eventually attract mice and bugs if it’s not being used. Also if it’s just sitting there I can see it becoming super dusty and a great habitat for spiders.

Katherine

I agree about keeping the wood outside, if you’re not going to be regularly rotating through the wood, then I shouldn’t be inside. My parents use a wood stove insert to heat their entire house, since the wood thing bring inside gets used and rotated so quickly, they don’t have issues with bugs or mice. Although, if you waxed the logs, they should still look good and would prevent bug interest. On the other hand, I think you should keep the wood burning fireplace, gas fireplaces don’t physically provide warmth even if they do look pretty and if your power… Read more »

Therese

We have a gas fireplace and it actually provides a lot of heat. It’s so nice to be able to turn it on with the touch of a button, even just for a few minutes at a time. We use it a few times a day because of this.

Aimee Sawyer

You have such a beautiful house, Emily! To be honest, I don’t hate the bubbly look of the rocks, but I agree that more grout would probably work quite well here – combined with a white wash, I think you’d be on to something magical! Of course I also love those geometric tile swatches, so if a complete redo is on the cards, then I say go for it!

Tiffanie

One of my favorite features of my very-builder grade home is the stacked stone fireplace. It was an upgrade and well worth it. With that being said I’d like you to start fresh with a better stone. I’d also love to see the fireplace stick out more from the corner. #freshstone

To me, the rounded stone and ceiling slant makes the room look short. Any changes (fresh start or make it work) to the existing fireplace will likely make the fireplace more substantial looking and a showstopper. I can’t wait to see the transformation.

Jb

I voted work with it…but agree with everything in this comment. My vote, I suppose, is keep it stone. New or old, but definitely stone-colored stone!!

Peggi

I definitely think some sort of aging/distressing of the current stone combined with additional grout could make that fireplace lovely. I’m always partial to working with what you’ve got, though!

Krysten

If you decide to work with it: We have a stone fireplace (and live in the mountains). I feel like ours works well because there is a diversity in stone shape and size (not too bubbly), the part with firebox comes out from both sides at angle so there’s more depth, and the rock extends to a full wrap bench which is super cozy and great for extra seating. Our rocks are also much more flush – more grout maybe? Side note: spiders LOVE large indoor piles of wood. I love the look, but maybe not practical for a weekend… Read more »

Naomi

I’m team “start fresh”. I doubt shaving the rocks is even possible and would result in the beautiful examples you pointed to. You did call the rocks in your fire place “bubbly”, and no amount of whitewashing/bleaching/tinting will turn grey stone into blonde…

Personally I think a light sand-color natural stone fireplace like the one you placed right under your family photos is the best option for the “refined/rustic” vibe you’re going.

Jody

Demo. I hate to say it, but your last house you lived with a fireplace that you didn’t truly love (i loved it though). I think you need a fresh start to truly express your own style.

Kanon Simmons

To me, the thing that really dated the fireplace is that it is at an angle. What if you demoed the top 2/3?

Kate

Oof, I think getting rid of the top third would make it look like an accident, as though the fireplace was just stuck there without any intention. Even though I don’t love this particular type of stone, I think whoever made the decision to run it up to the ceiling line made the right choice.

Ashley

Yes! Was scrolling to finding someone who felt the same. Ultimately it’s not the rock that bugs me, it’s the angle at the top! I voted to demo because of it… but now I see people saying to remove the rock above the mantle and leave it down below. I think that might just solve my issues with it. Then of course, work some of your wizardry on shaving/plastering/white washing it so that you’re happier with the color and shape 🙂

Chailla

Agreed!

Mindy

Our wood stove is on a stone platform and we love it, so I couldn’t understand your problem with yours until I looked at the photos. I think you should try to work with it, but it is way too uniform right now. If you could somehow shave it down or have more grout showing between the stones it would look better.

Meg Lec

Try to make it work, but with a caveat. Try an economical solution early and if you aren’t in love throw in the towel. I voted my head instead of my heart because I know that really bad stone can be made great. My mom painted out her terrible 60’s fireplace, a complete weekend DIY fix and it looks beautiful! Miracles happen! The bonus to painting/white washing is with just a little effort and money you’ll know quickly if you’ll love it or hate it and can adjust plans! So excited to see all of these changes!

Marcia

Exactly this. Add the extra grout and if it’s still not working- scrap it and start new. When we renovated the kitchen in my last house, the floor guys tried to convince me to go with tile instead of ripping up the linoleum to look for hardwoods underneath. But I knew I had to know if my 80 year old home had original hardwoods hiding under that 70s style linoleum. I would never forgive myself for not trying even if they were irreparable. Luckily for me they were in great condition!

Sarah G

Totally agree! Sometimes making something work costs as much as starting fresh. My beef with this stone is that it just looks fake. There’s no lentil over the fireplace, it’s so round that it just looks glued on there. It doesn’t look authentic. If you can make it look authentic on a budget go for it! Otherwise replace it!

Jolie_Fleur

Work with it all the way! I feel like this kind of stone will work well with your pebble tile. 🙂 I think as you see in all your inspiration images, the devil is in the details here. You need an amazing craftsman to help you with your vision. You will save on materials but I would seriously consider paying more for a contractor with artistic vision and excellent skills.

MM

I second that! It looks like the bigger version of your pebble tile.

Luanne

Start fresh! I lived with a similar fireplace for 12 years at a ski chalet at Mont-Tremblant Quebec. We referred to it as our Fred Flintstone fireplace and hated it. If you don’t love it now then cut your losses and replace. I would replace with either a old flat square stone (you have some Images above) or consider an old upcycled brick. In a previous chalet we had a fireplace that was built with 300 year old red brick from a building in old Montreal. It was also raised so the bottom was about 50cm ( 18”) off the… Read more »

Julia

I agree, keep it wood burning.

Johane

I have a condo in Tremblant too! Would love to see your fireplace. Mine is https://www.vrbo.com/420910

Nicki

The mortar on the existing fireplace is too dark. Adding lighter mortar will transform that rock foreplace into something much prettier.

patricia blaettler

Exactly. Picture it lighter, big difference.

Heidi

AHA!!

Kate

Go minimal with the fireplace. Those bubble rocks look very dated—they are nowhere close to looking like fieldstone. White washing them will minimize their bulbous and dated appearance, but it’s like putting lipstick on a pig…still a pig!

Can you drywall over it and then skim coat with concrete or a tinted plaster? The texture would be so pretty, and it would still have rustic charm.

Wendy

My thoughts exactly! A skim coat of concrete or plaster but textured enough to be rustic

PJ

Add Grout, wash it, and find an old really chunky slab of wood for mantle…voila! There is an older gentleman in North Carolina that creates unique mantles from trees…they are amazing with loads of character!

V

But if you have a gas fireplace, are the stacked logs just for decoration?

Emily

Yeah, that seems really weird. Agree with the above comments about mice and bugs, especially since you won’t be there all the time!

Amy

Yeah. I don’t get this. I think the log storage is beautiful but why would you specifically build that if you are switching to a gas fireplace?

Ashley

I say work with it so you can create content by sharing your experience and provide us with the information of grout/whitewash etc BUT maybe leave a little wiggle room in the budget to change it if it doesn’t ultimately work. Then you potentially have content for both options 🙂

Jill Hill

I agree!!

Taylor

I agree with this comment, too! I voted for “work with it” but I think that means that if you can’t make it work, after trying the great options you mentioned, then you start fresh.

Martha

My first thought was filling in with more grout and then applying some kind of rustic finish. It makes me think of the ‘German schmear’ fireplace that Chip and Jo did in this season of Fixer Upper – it seems like you could make it really cool with that!

Alana

In the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work!” I think so many readers can deeply relate to working with what ya got. I think you have an opportunity to embrace the challenge and make a drastic transformation! I think one of the best features of the existing living space is the variety of geometries and textures – the linear wood ceiling, fluffy carpet, smooth walls and that dimensional and organic patterning of the stone fireplace. I know lots of changes will be happening, but would love to see the play on geometry and texture of permanent finishes be carried… Read more »

abby

I like the first option you showed, where you raise the firebox and the hearth, and I think adding grout/mortar to lessen the bubble effect will work wonders. I hope you choose to work with what you have. I have found myself falling a little out of love with design blogs/accounts recently because it seems like everything has to be perfect/aspirational these days. I don’t miss the days of straight DIY blogging, but I do miss how we used to see more “here is how you, as a reader, can work with what you have” since we don’t all have… Read more »

Loveley

Yes to all of this. Make it work!

Radek

Work with it with extra “gloopy” mortar in cold grayish shade. Bubbliness of the stone will disappear and automatically the cold warm color ratio will start making sense. It’s worth giving a try. Great idea with raising the harph and the fire box.

Clarissa

Work with it! Adding grout + refinishing the stones will make a big difference, and why not try it before going full demo? I love your ideas for adding wood boxes because the current shape/silhouette? of the fireplace is the biggest turn off for me. Would you consider narrowing it at the top like your inspiration photo? I like where you’re headed!

Jenny B

Love the idea of narrowing it at the top like the inspiration pic!

April

I hope you’ll work with it. I don’t hate the bubble rock. Rather than hiding the bubble it would be interesting to find a way to make it work. Could be really pretty with a lighter, slightly more filled in grout. Also, many of the inspiration photos have a thin profile mantle or none at all. I think the current chunky strip of wood slicing the fireplace in half actually dates it more than the bubble. A less prominent mantle style could transform this into something special and give it that monumental quality that some of the other high ceiling… Read more »

Kara

Have you seen that German schmear technique Joanna Gaines has used on Fixer Upper? It might give you the look you’re after.

Lara

Yes! I was thinking this same thing! Just load on the mortar. 🙂

Landrie

plus it’s just really fun to say German Schmear all the time 🙂 but i agree that this was the first solution that came to my mind too! labor intensive, but for one fireplace it shouldn’t be too bad

Abigail R Jacob

If you fill in the grout, and then whitewash so you get a subtle tone-on-tone effect…..it might very well come out looking a lot like the white pebble tile in the bathroom. Be a nice way to tie both spaces together!

(I’m painting a dated stone fireplace in my own house soon. )

Caro

That’s exactly what I think! More grout + a graywash or whitewash would do wonders.

Tee

Work with what you have, it’s beautiful.
Raise the hearth, box, and mantel accordingly. Remove rocks from above the mantel. Hearth at bench height, use stones from above mantel for under bench. Mantel, add beams on both sides, come down to rest on bench or frame bench all the way to ground to add dimension. Area above mantel for art and sconces.
So fun, thanks for sharing your process.

Vicki S Williams

Yes my plan for our new/reworked fireplace is to use old distressed beams on either side to the 12 foot ceilings and another heavy beam as the mantle. and the German Smear. I hadn’t thought of raising the hearth but I definitely want to work that in. I like it!

Allison

I’ll be honest here. When you first mentioned gutting the fireplace and replacing it, my heart sunk. I think it’s very mountain-lodgey.

I like the idea of adding more mortar in a lighter color and then potentially aging the rocks more if it’s not quite there with just the additional mortar. It’s very close to being workable, and will save you a lot of money vs replacing.

julie

first of all absolutely love mjolk – so you really can’t go wrong if you are inspired by their fireplace!! also i am getting an irish vibe from a lot of the pics that you pinned and liked. i’m not sure what irish design dna is exactly but they do beautiful beautiful things with stone and it could provide a bit of a scandi/mountain blend you need. anyway just if you need another term to add to your hunt!

Brandy

We just went through this decision less than a year ago and decided to keep the fireplace/stone in our 1980’s house. We gutted the entire house, and the fireplace is the only original feature we kept. My husband won the battle of keeping the fireplace, and hate to admit it, but he was right. We had it cleaned up, regrouted and it made a HUGE difference. Once it is freshened up, the hearth is enlarged and styled, you might be surprised at the difference. Like you said, if you changed your mind a year or two down the road, you… Read more »

Rose

Work with it! At least try the white wash/gray wash and I think it will look great. If you HATE it, then you could start fresh. But white was is so simple and worth looking into before you spend thousands on it.

MaryMargaret

Not my style, but I am on Team Work With It. Just think what a little cheap and easy whitewash can do — fill the grout in a bit, give it a coat of whitewash, and see if that makes it less bubbly and dated. It’s a quick fix that you can do NOW to see if it gives you enough to get over it and, if not, then move to the more expensive Plan B (tear it down and put in what you want).

Stacey

Yes! The last thing you were talking about is what I was thinking all along. Fill in the mortar more and maybe do a bit of a German shmere (sp?). I also wonder if some kind of acid wash or something could age the stones a bit.

Alexa Curto

HA – I voted to start fresh, but see that I’m very much in the minority! #teamtile

Lesley

Me too! I want to see a cool tile or something unique, those stone fireplaces are too rustic for my taste. I think the floating ones are cool too but I don’t know how you would make that safe with kids.

Christine

Why would you need logs under a gas fireplace?

shebop

For Instagram.

kelie

Ha! That’s pretty funny! ; )

Susan

the stone is actually very nice, it is the grout that is ugly. Keep the real stone, there is nothing better than the texture and color variations of real rock. Have it remortered with a light color. It will absolutely change the entire look of the finished look! Any good stone mason or brick layer can accomplish this for you.

Jessica

I would normally say “work with it,” but my gut says that if you do that, it is going to be more trouble than you think and cause trouble with time, cost and materials regardless. I’m no mason, but something is telling me attempting to adjust what you got ain’t going to work.

Shana

Agreed. It’s such a focal point in the room, and starting with really mediocre material just makes me feel sad. Stone can be so beautiful! Smearing it with concrete-ish grout just emphasizes that you’re trying to hide the stone.

Melissa

You might want to consider keeping it, I wasn’t really a big fan of the stone until I saw a VERY similar fireplace in the current issue of Martha Stewart Living. It doesn’t look horrible, and the designer had a similar aesthetic to the one you’re going for, I think. I found the designer online and here’s a link to the project:

http://www.lizareyes.com/#/topanga/

Loveley

I like the idea of white-washing the stone. That looks sooo nice. I think it would be such a shame to get rid of the rocks. They’re real rocks and nicely done.
If you do get rid of the rocks, would you be able to save them to return back to nature? Or will they go to a landfill? If you do get rid of them, I think it would be a nice example to all your readers to find a way to be less wasteful with stuff you get rid of.

thays

I feel like this is already Brian’s dream fireplace, so maybe work with it? I think the challenge is much more fun to watch and so much more relatable and useful for your readers.

Christine

I think you should definitely work with it. It’s a great feature and there are some interesting tweaks you can do to it rather than demo-ing it and starting over. It’s a good place to save money on the overall project and also more environmentally friendly (so much waste if you take it out!).

Also, as others have noted, while logs indoors look cool, in a place that won’t always have people in it, they will attract all kinds of little creatures. Keep the logs outside.

Josh

I like the half idea. It also ties in with some of that cabin-y look that Brian seems to want too. You could clad the upper with concrete, painted the wall color. Then, use a medium rustic mantle and dye the rock below to a lighter color. This would still keep a clean Scandinavian vibe.

Joelle

I think work with it. If it were my house I would raise the hearth and firebox, as you illustrated, over-grout the entire fireplace with white grout, and then draw it out into the room with a structure added to the front made of either concrete or plaster. The texture and warmth of the stone is already there, but I think it just needs more dimension and a touch of modern.

Cathy

From a selfish perspective, watching you “work with it” is much more educational for me. We completely made over two fireplaces last year. They were dreadful and the impact was fabulous, but it was a huge chunk of budget.

Jenn

I love the idea of working with it – mainly because those fireplaces are VERY common, and it’ll give content to how people can work with it in the future with out demo/reconstruction! I like the idea of chipping the stones!

Jennblogshere.com

Emily

As a reader, I would be MUCH more interested in seeing the process of filling in with mortar, and shaving or altering the stone. More interesting than rip it out and start over!

S

This is a hard choice.
– I am always most impressed/inspired even ehd “works with it” on any project
– but I love the inspiration photos for starting over

Lindsey

If you work with it – the House Beautiful or Atlanta Home styles would get my vote! Some of the others are too “grouty” As far as demo – that gray brick or white washed wood is really pretty! Not really feeling the all drywall, not very special feeling. Love the wood stacked under the bench though! So cool!

Rosie

I say work with it but I do like the idea of raising the firebox and hearth. I think the stone is beautiful. I would love to have that in my home.

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